In the first session of a workshop, particularly one with a heavy name like “Language and Literature Workshop”, I like to start on a light note. Humour is a great place to begin, and I turn to an all-time favourite – Roald Dahl.
This time, I chose five of my favourite poems – “The Crocodile”, “The Porcupine”, “The Tummy Beast”, “The Anteater” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. I divided the participants into groups of five, and gave each group a poem to read. I gave them ten minutes to read and understand the poem, and then asked them to perform a little skit based on it.
(Spoiler warning: This blog post spoils the punchline of Roald Dahl’s “Little Red Riding Hood”.)
In Dahl’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood”, after the dutiful comments on Grandma’s big ears and big eyes, Little Red Riding Hood says, “… what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.” To this, the irate wolf replies, “Have you forgot/To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?”
The wolf then says that it doesn’t matter what she says; he is going to eat her anyway. And the girl pulls out a pistol and shoots him.
No unnecessary dependence on a woodcutter.
Cut to the next scene – gone is her “cloak of red”; gone is her “silly hood”. Instead, she is wearing a lovely, furry wolfskin coat.
The poem always makes me chuckle. I love her new-found independence, even if I don’t want wolves to die. That is why I chose the poem for my workshop in Baramati.
What a city-girl I am. What a typical English education I have.
My children did not find the poem funny at all. It was, in fact, rather pointless.
In a group of 130 children, 128 had never heard of Little Red Riding Hood.